Cary Fowler has yet to have his first team meeting with the 100 Texans who will report to preseason camp Wednesday.
But the second-year Tarleton State head football coach is already comfortable in saying his team is farther along than last year.
That's because Fowler is well aware the vast majority of his 2011 Texans have been on campus for much of the summer, preparing together for the upcoming season.
"We, of course, can't monitor workouts or anything like that, but with this heat, just knowing most of the kids are in shape is a big relief to me," Fowler said. "These kids have been out coaching themselves and each other. They love each other, love being around each other and love competing with each other. They enjoy the game and can't wait to get back to work."
Fowler expects exactly 100 players to report Wednesday, which he says is always a special time for him.
"It brings back memories of when I was reporting to camp as a player (at Murray State in Kentucky)," he said. "It's that fresh start, getting together for the first time with all your teammates for that year, believing anything is possible. If I could bottle that feeling, I'd make millions and millions selling it, because it's indescribable."
The Texans are coming off a 3-8 season in which as many as 28 true or redshirt freshmen were making the travel roster in any given week. Sixteen projected starters missed at least part of the season - many of them all of the season - due to injuries, most of which occurred in preseason.
"Some of these guys have been waiting for this since our 2009 season ended at Central Washington," said Fowler, recalling the Texans second-round playoff loss that came after they shared the Lone Star Conference championship that year. "They're fired up, and I'm fired up for them."
Fowler and Tarleton head volleyball coach Mary Schindler will be the keynote speakers at today's Texan Club Kickoff Luncheon at the City Hall banquet facility at City Limits. Coaching staffs and selected players from both sports will be introduced.
Players begin checking in at noon Wednesday and will have a team meeting that night. The first practice is Thursday morning.